History of Montessori
Montessori is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. Montessori education is practiced in an estimated 20,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to 18 years old.
Dr. Montessori discovered that the child younger than six has a miraculous ability to absorb their worlds. She called this “The Absorbent Mind.” A young child can absorb language, perfect movement and internalize order, developing from a helpless baby to a competent child in a few short years. Never will these sensitivities be more alive than in the early years of life. The young child is curious about everything and needs to and discover through purposeful activity.
The Montessori classroom
The Montessori classroom caters only to this growing child. The physical space and routines of the classroom are designed to maximize independent learning and exploration.
The Montessori classroom and activities encourage each child to move, touch, manipulate and make discoveries. The three-year-old who says, “I can do it myself” is encouraged to do so. Objects are placed so children can reach what they need, without waiting for adult help. Learning materials are self-correcting, so children learn that by manipulating the material they can be successful. Each piece of material is simple and carefully designed to appeal to the child at his or her stage of development.
The Montessori learning process
“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment,” she said.
In the Montessori classroom, teachers present individual lessons based on the child’s readiness. Children then practice and master the work presented, always having the freedom to work independently and choose their activities with gentle guidance from teachers.
The multi-age setting allows for modeling leadership, mentoring skills, and socialization between age groups. It allows younger children to learn from and interact with older students while allowing older students be leaders and help younger students. Students are encouraged to help each other, from assisting a friend with their coat to showing a new student a classroom routine.
The Montessori values
In addition to academics, the program fosters virtues such as love, peacefulness, compassion and kindness. Children imbibe values of respect for nature, caring for and acceptance of others, and becoming a responsible member of society.
Mankind’s basic tendencies are to explore, form order, imitate, abstract, imagine, form social groups, communicate, be independent, be obedient, be creative, learning discipline, participate in activities, repeat, and calculate. As they are satisfied, habits for lifelong learning perpetuate and children are free to become independent thinkers and learners.